Mar 232011

Semana Santa – Easter in Spain
Easter can be the perfect time to think about a break from the grey skies of northern Europe and to head to the Costa Blanca in Spain for some early, pre-summer sunshine. Days should be warm and sunny and a welcome change from the probably still chilly weather elsewhere. Evenings will still be cooler of course, but nevertheless very much milder than in the UK. As well as the better temperatures, Easter in Spain can give the visitor a feel for a tradition that has been all but lost in most other countries in Europe, and it is marked with a mixture of tradition, music, culture, theatre and, of course, religion.

Semana Santa is the Spanish description for Easter, although this translates literally as ‘Holy Week’. The festivities do in fact last for the entire week leading up to the Easter weekend, with processions through the streets from local churches to the cathedral and back again. Most of the processions tend to take place in the evening, with the most important being on the Thursday, and going through into Good Friday. As far as church services are concerned, Easter Sunday is obviously the most significant.
The Easter processions date back to the 16th century, when the church decided to inform the populace of the story of Christ, and it was thought that the best way to do so would be by means of processions that depicted the fall and resurrection of Jesus. Almost every town in Spain takes the Easter celebrations seriously, and although certain regions and areas do so more extravagantly than others (Seville, for example), anywhere in Spain will provide the visitor with a spectacle very different from anything they could ever see at home. Indeed, the Spanish celebrations will give the visitor a look back in time, as essentially the way Easter is marked has not changed very much over the centuries.

The processions themselves consist of floats and displays, usually very old and valued ones, which are borne by the men of each town’s different areas from the local churches to the main cathedral and then back again. Generally speaking, each community displays two floats – one depicting Jesus Christ, and the other one the Virgin Mary. The floats themselves are often very heavy and cumbersome and cause no small discomfort to those who are carrying them, but this is indeed part of the point of it all, as far as the participants themselves are concerned. Very often, those taking part in the processions will wear long robes with conical hats which conceal the face of the wearer, although this has nothing to do with the Klu Klux Klan in the United States, who took the idea for their costume from the Easter participants at a very much later date.

So if you like the idea of something a little different from at home, with a touch of Costa Blanca weather hopefully thrown in for good measure, have a look at the bargains that may still be available from the budget airlines. Easter could certainly be very different this year!

Mar 152011

Wednesday sees the beginning of the most significant fiesta in the Valencian Community – Las Fallas. This culminates on March 19th each year, when the huge effigies that have been constructed in the streets of Valencian towns are burnt in homage to St Joseph – the patron saint of carpenters – and traditionally marks the beginning of the new season and the casting out of things left over from the previous year.

The effigies are constructed during the week leading up to March 19th in the streets and squares of the towns, usually being a collective effort of that particular neighbourhood. The subsequent judging of the statues takes place, and the order in which they are ranked then determines the order in which they are burnt on the night itself, with the winner being left until last.
Each day at 2.00pm from Wednesday onwards, there is a deafening fireworks display (or “mascleta”) that takes place in the large square by the railway station in Gandía, and this is the signal that the day’s festivities can commence. Shops and businesses often close for the rest of the day and the populace takes to the streets to admire the effigies that are taking shape around the town, and to catch sight of the various parades of bands and Fallas Queens that go through the city streets. These culminate in the election of the following year’s Fallas Queen, a position that gives much kudos and social status to the young lady in question, who is then involved in many civic events throughout the coming season.

Mar 032011

The worst of the winter weather is now well and truly behind us and we can look forward to the beginning of a new season and a steady rise in temperature. One of the main attractions of living on the Costa Blanca is of course the much milder climate compared to the UK, so although residents here might complain about the cold season, it really is nothing compared to what they have left behind.

The first of the year’s property hunters arrived to stay at Villa Florencia at the beginning of the week, having decided that the Gandia area was the ideal base to look around for some bargain Spanish properties for sale. It is the perfect area for those not wishing to be a part of the concentrated ex-pat communities further down the coast, but ideal for anyone looking for the opportunity to settle in a part of the country still so authentically Spanish. Added to that, there are excellent communications in the area with a great motorway network, efficient railway system and Valencia airport also within easy reach.

Following the worst of the economic crisis now is an excellent time to think of making that major investment in a Spanish property – either for holiday use or as a new permanent home in the sun. Prices are much lower than they have been for a long time, and there are lots of bargains to be had up and down the Costa Blanca. Many owners are advertising their homes at prices that would have seemed impossible not many months ago, and those that are not may well be open to offers anyway! Whatever type of home you are looking for, whether it is an apartment, a holiday home on a development with others like it, or a large, more exclusive villa with a pool and its own grounds, there has never been a better time to start your search. The exchange rate is even more favourable than in the recent past, and although it is nowhere near the levels of four or five years ago, nevertheless it all helps to make that dream bargain property even more affordable.

Whether you are thinking of a holiday home in the sun or a permanent change of lifestyle, it is well worth taking advantage of the low cost flights to be found at this time of the year and coming to see what is available. Gandia Casa Rural (Villa Florencia) provides an ideal base for checking out the vast choice that is on offer all along the Costa Blanca – one of those bargain Spanish properties may be just the one you have always dreamed of!

Mar 022011

Gandia Casa Rural  is an ideally located base for your Costa Blanca spring sunshine break, just over an hour north of Alicante by car, 40 minutes south of Valencia (or conveniently placed for the train to the city too), and within easy driving range of any of the other places and attractions along the coast or inland. Only minutes away from the A7 motorway, yet set in a completely rural environment near to Gandia town.

Stay with us for a week in a comfortable and spacious room with a choice of either double or twin bedded accommodation.
Bookings made for stays of 7 nights commencing up to the end of April
will be given the preferential rate of just €350 per room (not per person!)
including a very generous continental breakfast.

What better time can there be to think of leaving the drab, grey skies behind and finding out what this lovely part of Spain has to offer?